Aviation Archaeology: Research, project experiences and concepts on Aviation Heritage.

Aircraft wrecks, Interviews, WW2, WW2 Wrecks

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos: Dr. Timmy Gambin and Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum


The Department of Classics & Archaeology, Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta is hosting an International Conference on Aviation Archaeology and Heritage in collaboration with the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum  from 16 to 18 November 2017.

Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museum
Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museum

The Aviation Archaeology and Heritage Conference will offer opportunities to share research, project experiences and concepts on Aviation Heritage.

The main aim of this event is to bring together scholars, heritage operators, aviation enthusiasts, historians, conservators and policy-makers to discuss recent developments in the documentation, conservation and preservation, management and display of Aviation Heritage.

Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museum
Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museum

Aviation archaeology underwater, methodologies for the excavation of aircraft crash sites, recording methods, legal issues related to the field of aviation archaeology, approaches to potential war graves and to conservation, preservation and/or restoration, digital heritage and the aviation world, oral history projects, aviation museums and today’s tourism market, the importance of flying collections to the history of technology and the sustainability of flying collections are among the topics that will be presented during the Aviation Archaeology and Heritage International Conference.

www.ww2wrecks.com has contacted Dr. Timmy Gambin, B.A. (Melit.),M.A.(Bristol),Ph.D.(Bristol) Senior Lecturer, Classics & Archaeology, at the University of Malta to elaborate on the Aviation Archaeology and Heritage International Conference.

Dr. Timmy Gambin
Dr. Timmy Gambin

What are the aims of the Aviation Archaeology and Heritage International Conference and what has the feedback been so far from academics and researchers?

The conference is aimed at bringing people – academics, aviation enthusiasts and other professionals – together so as to present and discuss current research, themes and issues related to Aviation Heritage.

Feedback has been excellent with nearly all the speakers slots taken. People from all over the world will be travelling to Malta to present, listen and discuss this interesting topic.

Credit: Dr Timmy Gambin
Credit: Dr Timmy Gambin

What is so important about Aviation Archaeology?

Aviation Archaeology is important and interesting because it is something emerging – wreck sites are still being discovered and methodologies being developed.

It is also important because it sheds light on the development of a technology that, in a very short space of time, revolutionised warfare and travel.

Credit: Dr Timmy Gambin
Credit: K. Hytinen

What can we learn from the wrecks of the past?

Besides learning about the individual stories of the plane wrecks themselves we can also explore the human aspect through the information we may glean about the crew.

Should we expect any new discoveries announced during the Conference?

Not just new discoveries but also innovative museum displays, approaches to conservation,and new technologies used to record underwater sites for example. There will be an extraordinary line up of international speakers.

Credit: Dr Timmy Gambin
Credit: Dr Timmy Gambin

What would be the ideal scenario regarding the future of Aviation Archaeology?

This is something that we would actually like to come out from this conference. It is important that views are presented and exchanged and used to positively influence what is surely an exciting future for Aviation Archaeology.


The combination of underwater research with academic and scientific support and interdisciplinary expertise often open new horizons in aviation archaeology and wreck research in general. What’s your take on that?

My take is that we must embrace this ‘collage’ of expertise needed in the discipline. Conservators, archaeologists, 3D specialists, aviation historians etc – all must contribute to the recording, study and management of an underwater site.

Malta has done a lot regarding the promotion of the scuba diving industry. What is the role of the average recreational scuba diver in aviation archaeology?

Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museum
Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museum

Malta is an ideal destination for conferences because of its connectivity and ample accommodation.

Of course, Malta enjoys over 100 years of Aviation History as well as being the location of some of the fiercest aerial combat in WWII.

The conference will be held in the historic walled city of Valletta with many museums of interest with easy reach.

In Malta we have already designated two historic planes – a bristol Beaufighter and a Blenheim Bomber – as protected dive sites to be enjoyed by qualified SCUBA Divers.

These have proved to be successful and it would be great to open up more ‘in-situ’ planes as part of an underwater aviation trail.

Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museum
Credit: Flying Heritage and Armor Museu